How to build a multi-million-pound business after 25 years of not working

Business Leader recently sat down with Maxine Laceby, the founder of the beauty brand Absolute Collagen about creating a £3m business within two years – despite being out of work for over 25 years.

Can you give me an overview of Absolute Collagen?

Absolute Collagen manufacture and retail powerful liquid marine collagen supplements that fight the visible signs of ageing and improve the quality of skin, hair and nails. The product helps to promote healthier, younger and more radiant looking skin, as well as reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and encouraging stronger, thicker and faster growing hair.

I was inspired to start the business after I started taking my own bone broth at home. After carrying out some research I quickly discovered that that it was collagen in the bone broth I was drinking that was having such an amazing effect on my skin and wellbeing.

It was then that I decided to start the business, 25 years after I first gave up work to have children!

What was the original vision for the business?

I created Absolute Collagen simply because it worked. I wanted to create a product that contained the maximum amount of grade type 1 collagen peptide at the lowest possible price. Keeping costs low for my customers was always my number one priority. This is part of the reason why we deal directly to the customer; shops want up to 60% and we would have to pass that cost on to the client.

What separates you from other beauty brands in the market?

My personal morals and principles run through Absolute Collagen. I want every customer to feel part of the brand and know they are acknowledged and respected. We run on the power of S.I.R – that every customer deserves to feel Safe, Important and Respected.

That is why we retail via our website, direct to the consumer. It means we can manage the entire consumer experience and ensure that everything from seeing the first Absolute Collagen, visual via social media, to receiving their product is a positive experience.

We are a business with family at its core. My two daughters, Darcy and Margot are both heavily involved in the running of the company. We also still operate out of our family home in Wolverhampton.

What made you want to enter the business world in your fifties?

My children had grown up and I had the time!

What are the biggest differences in business between the 25 years you were out of business?

I hardly had any business experience before starting Absolute Collagen, but I have certainly learnt a lot about myself since then. I know my strengths and weaknesses and I realise that it is OK not to know everything.  The risks I take are calculated and in my 20’s I would have just gone ahead with no real consideration of the consequences.

How have you achieved such exponential growth?

There are so many different reasons, but ultimately the product works! The fact that customer service is at the centre of everything we do has helped massively. We know that our customers will have a positive experience shopping with us and therefore keep coming back. We have also always had an excellent presence on social media, something that has been key to the growth of the business.

What does it mean to have your family involved in the business?

Both of my daughters choose to be involved in the business and seeing them be able to stretch their business arms and grow within a safe business environment is a gift.

Darcy is Chief Operations Director and looks after sourcing the ingredients and blending, manufacturing and packing the product. She also oversees the customer service team – an integral part of the business!

Margot, my youngest daughter, is responsible for ensuring that 18,000 packages a month are sent out on time from our home every month.

What does the future hold for Absolute Collagen?

International expansion! My focus at the moment is launching Absolute Collagen in the USA and UAE. We are also in the process of developing a number of new products, including a face serum/cream, that stimulates collagen production, and a collagen protein shot.